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Patrick v. General Court, Round 1

This past week has been incredibly busy with work, but I had a few minutes to read the paper and couldn’t help but read the story about Traviglini’s comments on Patrick. My first reaction was an angry one. I want Patrick to succeed. I’m still skeptical that he can succeed, but I want him to. Key quotes from the story:

Travaglini said: “I told the governor-elect, if you’re willing to share and you care and you prepare and are ready to deliver, then everything will work out. If not, I have senators across the state who share my vision and my approach and if forced to choose, I’m comfortable with whom they’ll choose.”

and

Legislators have also been concerned that Patrick may move to cut earmarks, money that is directed by legislators to local projects. “They are not pork,” DiMasi said earlier this week. “They are legislators’ priorities.”

My second reaction was delight (I’m not proud of that reaction, but it is there). I have long thought that the state legislature was part of the problem in Massachussets. It’s nice to see the arrogance so clearly displayed. If Patrick is the foil that makes the legislature’s (and legislators’) failings visible, I think that’s great. Maybe that is the way that Patrick mangages to change the culture on Beacon Hill.

Neither the second nor first reaction went away. One didn’t overwhelm the other. I’m still of two minds about the whole thing. And, as I mulled reaction one and two, reaction number three popped up: Is this being totally blown out of proportion? Is this just the Globe making a conflict out of nothing because it makes a good story? What about story quote:

The audience members who described Travaglini’s remarks said they appeared to be designed to dispel the idea that because Democrats will control the House, the Senate, and the governor’s office next year, the state will return to lavish spending.

It’s not juicy controversy, so it’s not the lead. But if you frame the other quotes in this context, Travaglini’s comments are almost innocuous. He might be saying, “don’t worry, if Patrick tries to go off the budgetary rails, we won’t let him.” While that isn’t Travaglini’s usual role, it’s a role that someone has to play these days. In that context, this is a giant non-story.

Regardless, Traviglini recognized that the story was making him look like an ass. He had a press conference with Patrick and apologized to Patrick, saying that he misspoke. Patrick accepted the apology.

The press conference doesn’t change my thoughts about the first story. Travaglini’s somewhat ambiguous apology successfully numbs the sting of the original controversy. Whether he was right or wrong, he was taking a beating, and the sort-of apology mitigated it. Patrick could theoretically have played hardball, but it seems silly to alienate the Senate president on such a thin issue. It’s a no-brainer for him to stay on the high road, do a small favor for Travaglini, and work with Travaglini as far as he can. You can’t learn anything from their actions because the press conference was pretty much a foregone conclusion, given the original story.

Where’s my conclusion from all this? I don’t have one. We’ll just have to see how the next two years turn out.